Inland Empire-based Beer Geek Radio recently interviewed The Bruery's Marketing Director Benjamin Weiss and Lead Brewer Phil McDaniels. Along with the details of their upcoming membership program, Weiss and McDaniels discussed with hosts Brad and Steven, Oktoberfest as the original "seasonal" beer, details about boiling beer with 900 degree chunks of granite, and the use of Google Translate to name their beers.
Membership programs are a perfect idea for an operation like The Bruery. Barrel-aging beers, for which they are well-known, is a challenging and lengthy high-risk process. Unlike a standard pale ale that would move quickly from primary to secondary fermentation in a stainless steel bright tank where it carbonates, The Bruery moves most of its beer into wooden barrels for secondary fermentation.
Typically, the barrels once contained other fermentables (like wine or bourbon) which can leave behind trace amounts of yeast and bacteria. It is from these remnants that brewers hope pleasant and complex maturation will come rather than contamination. Aging anywhere from a few months to many years, depending on the beer, means there is also a substantial time investment to this method. Gambling with barrel-aging is high stakes -- it isn't for every beer or every brewer -- but when well-executed it produces complex beer and some serious cred for the brewer. Plus, it tastes amazing.
The brewers liken the Reserve Society to micro-financing -- but we like to think of it on par with a CSA program. Just as you would "subscribe" to a farm share, here you're securing an allotment of beer. The advantage to the brewery is that if they have a batch of beer that doesn't deliver (much like a ruined crop), they aren't scrambling to keep the business afloat. Forwarded money offers security. The advantage to the consumer is that you can rest assured that you'll be drinking well in the coming year -- and that you'll be treated to some Bruery merchandise. And you certainly can't put a price tag on elevating your sense of locavore superiority.
Follow the link for Reserve Society membership cost and specific beer line-up.